Wednesday, May 22, 2024
BLOGSPeace of Mind

My daughter and the fear of being forgotten

My mother has always loved children, and was over the moon for mine. She was very excited when she knew she was about to have a grandchild, and was the stereotypically perfect grandmother for the short time she was able to be interactive in Olivia’s life.

There were constant presents, daily visits, book readings, sleep overs, excursions, babysittings, and endless compliments and joy in talking with me about Olivia. “I miss when Popo used to come over and read to me,” Olivia has remarked more than once. 

I miss it, too. We feel Mom’s memory loss sharply, because my mother was the only interested grandparent. It’s an illusion that age always brings redemption, or even the desire for redemption. 

A year ago, my mother looked at Olivia and asked, “And who is this pretty little girl?” 

“It’s Olivia, Mom. Remember Olivia?” I reminded her.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but it cut deeply into my sensitive daughter’s psyche. To be forgotten. To be abandoned by someone she loves.

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me, but it should have. Men wage wars to build a legacy to be remembered. To be remembered is to live on. To matter.

She admitted this to me later, in the dark of the bedtime hour, in a small voice. “Did Popo forget me?” she asked.

“Popo remembers you in her heart,” I assured her. “She loved you very much.”

For a long time, my daughter didn’t want to see my mother at the rest home. It made her sad to be forgotten. I respected that.

One day, I realized that my mother always indicated she knows Olivia is her granddaughter. Then I put it together that she doesn’t recognize Olivia now. She remembers a baby or a toddler.

Olivia dancing for Popo
Olivia dancing for Popo

I told Olivia this, and it made it OK to visit the care home again. I introduced Popo to Olivia 2016, and everything went well. We talked, we laughed, and Olivia performed a dance routine for her.

I think it’s sweet that my mother loved my daughter so much, she somehow remembers her even though Olivia’s only been around for nine years. My mother has long forgotten who my husband is, and she’s known him for 16 years.

It’s still sad for my daughter, but now it’s just sad in the same way it is for me, that this woman we love keeps drifting further and further away. And we will remember her as she is: loving and loved.

8 thoughts on “My daughter and the fear of being forgotten

  • I went through this with my grandmother, and eventually my mother. Here’s my funny story, though: Every week, at least once a week, I’d pick up my grandmother and as we drove off I’d ask her, “What’s my name?” She’d ummmmmm for a bit and I’d say, “I’m Melissa.” “Oh yeah, Melissa.” Then I’d say, “….your favorite granddaughter.” She’d reply with everything from a dubious “Oh yeah?” to a diplomatic, “You’re all my favorite!” —but she never once would let me have the satisfaction of her admitting I was her favorite!

    • Oh! I’m sorry to know that, Melissa! And your story is hilarious. Here’s a humorous post script to my blog, then. My mother thinks Claus is her boyfriend. She’s always flirting with him when he goes, and while he’s very tolerant and kind, it kind of weirds him out that she keeps staring at him and complimenting him.

      • LOL! That happens, too. My grandmother eventually thought my mom & aunty were her sisters. She thought my NIECE was her daughter (my mom).

  • aww. Sending hugs to you all! My grandpa and a dear friend of ours had dementia and alzheimers. The not being remembered cuts deep.

  • I remember when this happened with my grandmother. It was more of a scary feeling for me and it had started when I was in 7th grade. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Experiencing this now with mom, my girls are 12 & 13. They had to overcome her repeatedly asking if we wanted to got to lunch with her although we had just come back from lunch. Once they got over that they were all good.
    A CNA once told me when you spend time with mom, you need to put everything on hold even your expectations. Live in her moment not your own.
    Once you take that to heart you realize there is no need to argue or rationalize with her.
    Definitely helped our family!
    Just make memories!!!

    • Hi Ben, So sad, yeah? You’re right – you just need to live in the moment without expectation. It’s hard, but it’s best.


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